Featured objects from the Ed and Saryl Von der Porten Collection, part of the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park museum collection.
The “Keep ‘Em Flying” slogan was coined by chief army recruiting officer Lt. Col. (later Maj. General) Harold N. Gilbert to elicit support for airmen of the U.S. Army Air Forces during WWII. The Army Air Forces was formed in 1941 from the Army Air Corps and was succeeded by the U.S. Air Force in 1947. “Keep ‘Em Flying” is visible on a variety of items from WWII such as matchbooks, pins, signs, and this glass sulfide paperweight.
V-Mail, also known as Victory Mail, was the method used by the United States during WWII to efficiently send mail to and from those serving in the Armed Forces. Based on the British Airgraph process, letters were copied to microfilm and then reprinted on paper once they reached their destination. V-Mail sheets made the microfilming process easy for the workers who processed them by utilizing standard sizes and layouts. Companies that produced ink, such as Waterman’s, began marketing their ink as “ideal for V-Mail” as a way to cash in on the war effort and increase sales.
General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) was a General in the U.S. Army, and Field Marshal in the Philippine Army. He retired in 1937 but was recalled to duty in 1941 to assist with the war effort. MacArthur’s role as a leader in the Pacific theater during WWII earned him numerous medals, including the Medal of Honor.
When new, this victory-themed fly swatter featured a patriotic red, white, and blue wooden handle and a clear message about who the enemy was. As a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese took center stage as America’s enemy, and anti-Japanese sentiment surged. Racist language like that on this fly swatter reflects that sentiment and is an important reminder of the dehumanizing elements of war.
Text on swatter: “This Victory Swatter can’t be used to battle the Japs, but the steel saved in the wire handle can.”
This dagger would have been carried by a member of the NSFK - National Socialist Flyers Corps (Nationalsozialistisches Fliegerkorps) - the predecessor to the Nazi Luftwaffe. Possession of this dagger by an American would signify victory over the enemy and may have even been displayed in the home of a veteran as a souvenir from combat.
Government propaganda campaigns stressed the importance of food conservation, urging citizens to "Produce and Conserve, Share and Play Square," and touting food as "the mightiest weapon of them all!" Women were encouraged to plant Victory Gardens, preserve and dehydrate foods to make them last, adhere to rations, and recycle fats for fuel. During WWII, staying healthy was heralded as a patriotic duty, and numerous books such as this monthly Health-For-Victory Club publication were created to assist homemakers with ways to maintain health while being as thrifty as possible.
Prudence Penny was the pseudonym for a collection of chefs, writers, and editors employed as food columnists by Hearst newspapers across the U.S. in the early to mid-20th century. Prudence Penny’s columns featured recipes and advice for preparing delicious and nutritious meals, so it’s no surprise that during WWII she would publish a book offering instructions for making the most of rations. This patriotic book features recipes, tips for stretching ration points, and handy charts for exchanging and keeping track of rations.
During WWII, the U.S. Government created several councils and organizations that worked together to mobilize civilians to prepare for defending the country from various threats to the home front. This booklet proclaims that civil defense is “The Duty and Destiny of Every American,” and provides information on ways to engage. Active participation in civil defense was a very visible way of demonstrating one’s patriotism and support for the war.
During a time when materials rationing impacted manufacturing, companies sought to market items that emphasized rationing and denoted eager participation in the war effort as a way to boost sales. Having items like this in one’s home signified cooperation and participation in the government’s policies.
The rationing of metal used to make hairpins made saving and reusing them a priority. Package inserts encouraged women to carry their pins with them to their hair appointments, and portable plastic “Victory Purse Packs” enabled women to easily transport their precious metal hairpins in their purses, reducing the need to constantly purchase new ones.
Sweetheart jewelry surged in popularity during WWII and was a visible way for a woman to assert that she was off-limits, while also signaling her support for the war. Additionally, wearing this was an important means of providing comfort to the men who were serving, as their fears about long distance romances would be assuaged by knowing their sweetheart was proudly displaying her status as a "taken woman."
Kerk Guild Inc., known for making popular figure soaps like Shirley Temple and the Lone Ranger, cashed in on the war by creating this patriotic set of soaps featuring figures from each branch of the military. While more for decorative purposes than for practical use, they illustrate how every aspect of American lives, including basic daily hygiene practices, were affected by the war.
Thank you to the late Ed and Saryl Von der Porten and to the Rosie the Riveter Trust for purchasing the collection and donating it to the park,
Exhibit created by Rosie the Riveter/WWII National Historical Park.
Images courtesy of Rosie the Riveter/WWII National Historical Park.